Across nearly 20 years, Adult Swim has delivered an eclectic barrage of animated projects that range from comedically transcendent to uncomfortably absurd. Arguably its most gloriously unsettling original is Vernon Chatman's The Shivering Truth, which employs meticulous stop-motion animation in delivering its haunting themes and often taboo subject matter. The show's provocative nature is certainly familiar to fans of Chatman's former creations such as Wonder Showzen and Xavier: Renegade Angel, and his long career as a writer and producer on South Park also helped to hone that vision.
CinemaBlend spoke with Vernon Chatman to talk about The Shivering Truth's second season, which is just as unpredictable and affecting as Season 1. I asked Chatman how he thought South Park paved the way for him to create a show like Shivering Truth, and by and large, he credits the uniqueness and workmanship of Trey Parker and Matt Stone. In his words:
Though the majority of TV projects engage a variety of writers that spread their talent around when planning stories out, South Park very much remains tethered to its creators Trey Parker and Matt Stone. Obviously other people like Vernon Chatman work on the show – he also voices Towelie, among others – but partially as the fuel that helps Parker and Stone bear their most effective fruits. It was impressive enough in the show's earliest years, but the fact that they've been bringing South Park to life since 1997 is truly awe-inspiring.
For much of that time, Vernon Chatman has had a front row seat in witnessing Trey Parker and Matt Stone's singular vision come to life on a weekly basis, which has no doubt bled into how Chatman has directed his career outside of South Park. Chatman has long worked alongside John Lee in crafting everything from Wonder Showzen to The Heart She Holler to Doggy Fizzle Televizzle, and the duo very clearly maintained creative control for each project's lifespan. Chatman took things even further with The Shivering Truth, serving as the show's lone writer, while sharing directing duties with the equally awesome Cat Solen.
Here, Vernon Chatman talks more about the singleness of South Park:
Without a show like South Park proving that mainstream audiences were ready for animated series that skewed even more adult than The Simpsons, we might never have gotten such indelible modern classics such as BoJack Horseman, Harley Quinn, or Rick and Morty. (Much less anything else on Adult Swim beyond maybe Harvey Birdman, Attorney at Law.) Even Family Guy, which debuted less than two years after South Park, might have been harder to swallow had Trey Parker and Matt Stone not lit up cable TV with its then-risqué episodes. And where one of South Park's earliest catchphrases was "kick the baby," Vernon Chatman's The Shivering Truth features a character who secures her survival by pretending she's going to eat her baby.
In speaking with Vernon Chatman, I also brought up the fact that South Park has rarely played a partisan card with its satire, choosing to aim at anyone and everyone. Chatman's work has largely taken the same equal-opportunity approach with its potentially offensive content, and The Shivering Truth is definitely included. Here's what he had to say about TV creators who play up personal beliefs through storylines.
To be sure, very few creative minds in the entertainment industry are trying to dig as deep into the human psyche as Vernon Chatman, and his unwavering vision is the core reason why The Shivering Truth stands out so clearly in an increasingly clogged TV landscape. Thankfully, his long career on South Park further helped Chatman see how creatively and critically successful a hugely popular TV show can be even when based mostly on the imaginative power of its creators. Here's hoping The Shivering Truth will also be on the air for more than two decades, or at least as long as Chatman feels comfortable putting it all together.
The Shivering Truth Season 2 airs Sunday nights (technically Monday mornings) on Adult Swim at 12:00 a.m. ET. Be sure to keep watching so that Adult Swim knows how much the world needs this show leading our nightmares each week.
Nick is a Cajun Country native, and is often asked why he doesn't sound like that's the case. His love for his wife and daughters is almost equaled by his love of gasp-for-breath laughter and gasp-for-breath horror. A lifetime spent in the vicinity of a television screen led to his current dream job, as well as his knowledge of too many TV themes and ad jingles.
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